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After two years of agonizing in contractual abyss, my friend finally had the opportunity to upgrade her ancient pocket relic to what her slew of friends and TV heroes convinced her to crave: a brand spanking new iPhone.

Minutes after her new acquisition, I get a text, “Guess who’s got a 5s!”

By the end of the day, I get another text… “I don’t get it. Why would anyone pay so much money for this?”

Now, she’s considering returning it altogether.

The truth of the matter is that iPhones are losing their sheen, but people are buying them anyway. iOS to Android is as comparable in utility as a Louis Vuitton tote bag to a JanSport backpack; yet, people flock to these expensive logos for the sign of prosperity, like it will give them meaning to life.

apple losing bite smallAlmost everyone I know who gave Android and Windows phones (WP) a chance ended up buying them, instead of the iPhone. And 80% of the time, they chose Android because the WP didn’t have the right apps. People love WP’s intuitive operating system. The market better watch out because once WP establishes a competitive ecosystem, consumers will no longer be choosing their phones because of ecosystems, or lack thereof; they will be making decisions based on innovation.

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has pointed out that “our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation.” It’s time for people to reconsider the facts. Steve Jobs is no longer paving the way for mobile innovation (I love MacBooks though); Larry Page and his Googlers are. I hope Apple finishes milking the proverbial cow and builds some real disruptive technology. Or, Google will become the indisputable go-to phone, Microsoft will claw its way back to prominence, and Steve Job’s legacy will become Atari.

The status quo does teach us the importance of a robust ecosystem. iOS grew like wildfire because it was a disruptive and innovative game changer that had no competition – but recently, it has lost its luster. Android caught up at an unimaginable rate because even Android’s operating system itself is built for collaboration. Sharing is not a trend; it’s a fact. With collaboration, everybody grows stronger and faster. So the lesson to be learned here is that we all need to focus on building a more robust ecosystem. Leverage public APIs, be an active part of communities, and conversely, don’t be stingy with your own. It may be a pain to build from the ground up, but it will definitely pay off in the not so distant future. Your customers will respect you for it.

*Steve Chen is the Mobile Product Manager at Egnyte. From running his indi-software company to packing parachutes at local airports, he’s been exercising his particular strain of unhealthy obsessive ADHD for as long as he can remember.

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